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tv   Discussion on Islamic State and Al- Qaeda  CSPAN  December 5, 2015 12:48am-2:14am EST

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between isis and al qaeda, and how the u.s. should counter the threat of these groups. the discussion was hosted by new america. this is one hour and 20 minutes. jason a lookreport was to take at strategic competition between al qaeda and the islamic state. we looked at islamic state and al qaeda as revolutionary groups.
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them asing at revolutions as both organizations have tried to fight against the standard world order and within the region of syria and iraq. identified as a malice organization. they favor political preparation of areas that they intend to go into. they use violence, but it is not in support of political objectives. the violence comes second. this has been seen in a number of the public writings from the leaders. they feet off of the experiences and writings of che guevara, on how they put dominance towards violence, and politics through violence.
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excuse me for a second. further, we look at differences in their strategies within the construct, and how we examine it. we look at -- al qaeda has been going through a branding effort in the last two years where they have been trying to downplay their own role within their affiliate organizations across north africa and the middle east. contrasting that with isis' declaration of being an actual state, and their use of violence. the other aspect -- daveed is here. mr. gartenstein-ross: don't go away. mr. fritz: the ultimate d.c.
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power move is actually being late to your own event. my apologies for this. it has been kind of a long week. i want to fundamentally give a shout out to jason, the team who worked on this. a phenomenal team. i want you to finish, and then i might say a thing or two. i apologize again for being late to my own launch event. mr. fritz: particularly putting the focus on politics, with silence supporting politics. they are trying to present themselves to the muslim population of the world as a more reasonable alternative to the islamic state.
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that is really about it. one last sentence, and then i will hand it over to you. mr. gartenstein-ross: to pick up on that, one concept that comes up a lot in my work is what i refer to as consensus areas. areas where virtual consensus, those of us operating the public sphere, about what particular events being that -- mean that end up being wrong. the arab spring ended up being the exact opposite. we see something that resembles a consensus area in this. my prediction is that in 2-3 years, one of the things we will be talking about is the fact that al qaeda is able to operate much more openly than it ever could before.
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you already see this in syria where al qaeda made itself almost impossible to attack. the reason being that they are so thoroughly embedded with rebel groups, the syrian population, they have genuinely one over -- won over large portions of this population. these have all been important moves. you can see this coincide with a few disturbing trends -- the increase in state support to al qaeda, turkey, watar, saudi arabia, are all helping it gain ground in syria. u.s. backed rebels are helping al qaeda take ground. this is openly acknowledge. this is not nefarious.
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the reason the u.s. doesn't is we acknowledge that moderate rebels are so marginal at this point that they need -- they cannot operate in areas is al qaeda wants to deny them the ability to do so. charities that we worked so hard to close down post 9/11 are back in business. the sanctions regime at the united nations is fundamentally collapsing. all of this is going to create a very complex situation is, as i believe, isis ends up -- it's flame does not burn quite as bright in a few years. you have to understand, there are different jihadist actors. one has been playing off of this dramatic rise of isis. the way the isis has been able to capture our imaginations, and the imaginations of so many, like the san bernardino backers.
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-- attacker that just came out. a pledge on facebook. they have been able to capture the excitement of jihadist, especially young jihadist. they have been able to capture our imagination. not paying attention to how al qaeda is pivoting is something we will regret, and probably sooner, rather than later. >> with that, we will turn it over to start with some comments on his view of the paper. mr. ollivant: sure. i've really enjoyed reading this paper, which clearly laid out the distinction between the two groups in some interesting ways. we are used to thinking of these two groups as different, but i think we do not think very hard about why that is so. we know this is the islamic state, and they are a little more violent. we know there is al qaeda, and we have hated them for so long. it is almost like we are ready for something new.
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we have not thought about the distinctions, and i think that is something that this report does very well. if i could lay it out even more simply than the report does, in very short hand -- of course was shorthand, you lose some nuance -- a shorthand way of thinking about this is is the islamic revolution, the caliphate, now or later? for al qaeda, it is not yet time to bring about the full islamic revolution. the people are not ready. they still live in relative content in the not truly islamic state, which means everything from malaysia to saudi arabia. they are not ready.
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there needs to be a period of education, teaching, and preparing not only the people, but the cadre, for what is to come. in the meantime, there are these far enemies who need to be dealt with and taught a lesson. as september 11 demonstrated. that is their theory of the case -- it is not yet time. the islamic state inks, it is time. now is when we need to bring about this revolution, and we now see what they consider that to be. we see the islamic state, as they set it up in the territory they have captured in iraq and syria, and spreading throughout the world. both in the affiliates and the lone wolves -- whether in paris, san bernardino, or where have you.
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i appreciate this paper bringing it to the for and allowing me to think about it in that way. the second point that the paper really brings out is something that daveed emphasized at the end. i guess i will emphasize it a little more. the way they put it in the paper is that because of the existence of the islamic state, isil, or daesh, al qaeda in general is able to enjoy state support. in syria, they explicitly get -- i do not think this is a matter -- this is well known in open, classified materials. they get money from tu rk if you ask them, they say, no, we are supporting the rebel groups, we are giving to the
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coalition, and the fact that there happens to be a big affiliate in the middle of it is a regrettable necessity. the combination of the syrian revolution, and the fact that you have now isil, metaphorically speaking, to al qaeda's right, as the new definer of what true evil is has now made it possible for people to talk about al qaeda, and deal with al qaeda in ways that would have been unthinkable in early parts of the last decade. the day went prominent figures would publicly talk -- maybe we can reconcile with pieces of this al qaeda affiliate. you cannot imagine people saying that in 2003-2004. it would have been unthinkable. now we have this. an al qaeda group which may or may not still be a more
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significant long-term threat that is now able to get state support, which daveed points out. the sanctions regime is showing weakness. and, just in the public sphere is talked about in a much different way, almost as an afterthought. oh, yeah, there is an al qaeda affiliate in the middle of them. again, unthinkable to think about talking about an al qaeda affiliate in these terms. you have to ask the question, last i checked -- until a few days ago -- isil had not attacked the homeland of the united states. even now, we certainly regret it happened in san bernardino, but it is qualitatively different event and what we happen a 9/11.
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when did a group that attacked our homeland somehow become moderate when compared to a group that is evil, never really has, or not in the same sense. third, there was one thing i did not see indy report that i would like daveed to respond to. i did not see the report treat the distinction, in the way that two groups treat the arabs. that is something that has always been qualitatively different about the two groups, starting with the founders. osama bin laden, in my understanding, at least, always had a soft spot for the shiite -- certainly viewed them as mistaken, heretics, but never talked about exterminating them, subjugating them.
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they weren't issue, and sometimes they had regrettable political views, and had to be lectured. of course, they were with iran, and that was a problem, but they were seen as a group of heretics. that needed to be killed, or at the very least, put in a very subordinate status. i think that has been reflected in the approach by the two groups. i did not see that in the paper, and would be interested in daveed's thoughts on that. as the paper brings out, there are two responses that al qaeda could have to the rise of isil. do they try to mimic them and increase their visibility, their approach.
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do they essentially agreed that maybe we do need to accelerate the revolution? or do they double down -- slow and steady wins the race. we are the tortoise, not the hare. i think a lot of this depends on where is the islamic state in two years? al qaeda may be forced to mimic them more. where, on the other hand, if they were able to remove their abilities to hold the territory, and there is no longer an islamic state existing in the north of iraq and east of syria, then al qaeda's longer-term strategy may look different. i guess i will stop there now. >> thank you for the report.
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i thought it was very generous to al qaeda, maybe too generous. for one thing, if you look at the fighters of isis and al qaeda, they go back and forth. a lot of influence with isis. in terms of ideology, the difference is practically none. to say things like al qaeda avoids frightening or alienating local populations -- for someone who grew up in the arab world, we do not have much more generous political scientist who care about thes population. we do not have the kind of democracy that we want. we have terrorism springing and -- we do not have the kind of democracy where they care what the people want. we have terrorism springing and every part of the world. another thing is i would have liked the report to have
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discussed the brutality between the two groups. it is a huge problem that fighters go back and forth. they started executing whoever changes camps, basically. there have been executions of hundreds and hundreds of fighters. it is documented. it is always documented. by al qaeda, as well as isis. it is creating such paranoia, but actually, at one point, isis executed four of its premieres, and 100 people at one point. there is no shortage. but we talk about caring about the population, we really are not -- we have to make an enormous distinction between, in the west, what we think about,
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when we talk about caring for the populations, public support, and the arab world, which again, the bar is so low that maybe an ant can crawl under it, it is so low. we are talking about maybe the best case scenario -- may be the taliban. do you consider the taliban and organization that cares about the population? i wouldn't. i think there is the violence -- public support is relevant. what we talk about public support, we cannot take the leaders words. we are talking about night and day difference is. another thing is the organic -- i really have an issue with
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this. prewar in syria -- actually, everywhere in the arab world, the practices that al qaeda has cannot be called organic in anywhere except for maybe saudi arabia. it is not organic to any other place. it is planted, supported. the same thing -- this is really available. pretty much all of the leadership are saudis. some of them are professors at saudi universities. some of them are current or former officials. saudi institute at a clause in the army, where you can be paid, take a vacation, and go fight in syria. if you are killed in syria, you are a martyr.
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this is state-supported, state direct it. it is not so much organic. this is very active. i will stop here. mr. bergen: we will turn it back to daveed to respond, perhaps starting with the question, are these two really distinct groups? or, they cannot truly have a distinct strategy? mr. gartenstein-ross: they are definitely distinct groups. not he is supported that. she talked about the way that people defected from one group to another can be killed. they definitely see the distinction. i agree with everything that nadia said.
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it is possible that we do not do enough in the report to emphasize al qaeda's brutality, but we start with the premise that al qaeda is an incredibly brutal organization, and unlike isis, keeps a chunk of its brutality off camera. i do not think there is a moral distinction between them, such that al qaeda is actually organic, or actually avoiding brutality. rather, it is a question of what image they are trying to craft. i would rather talk about the organic question than the brutality question. i believe that language we use in talking about organic is that al qaeda, unlike isis, likes to make itself appear to be an organic part of the population. i agree with nadia that it is not. you can look into two things. one is the writing of its ideologues. the second is the actual
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expansion in practice. in tunisia and libya -- i think tunisia is a purer example -- al qaeda ended up using front groups. spring hit, al qaeda talked about how this presented a great opportunity, and how there would be this openness. they made a point. don't be too hard on the population. these dictators have made sure that they do not understand true islam. you have to leave them slowly and be lenient with them. to be clear, this is al qaeda talking. i'm not giving theological credence to it. nadia: how do you explain the killing of two politicians with this rhetoric? mr. gartenstein-ross: again, there are multiple ways that one can explain it. she's talking about the assassination of two tunisian politicians during the course of 2013, which ultimately helps to lead to the abandonment of the organization. there are two possible ways. there is something that i've not been able to get at. was that organized from the top
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or was that done more out of local initiative? either way, i do not think it fundamentally changes things. number one, i think that does represent the true face of the group. even aside from the assassination of the politicians, another thing they have been engaged in is violence to enforce religious norms, attacking hotel bars, christians, secularists. these were all attacks that had sanctions at top levels. violence, but at the same time they were making it seem organic. is wayey mean by lenient different than what we mean by it. to them, they are super lenient if they kill a few hundred people. they can be lenient even while killing people. what they are talking about is
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the way it will come across to the population. to them, isis goes beyond what we can consider leniency. al qaeda has a very quixotic view of what it means to be lenient. in terms of in practice, the front group that they put up did a lot of work. i visited tunis, neighborhoods that were normally under served by the state. people would have this perception, these are good guys. they are religious, they come here, they give us clothing, and this is how they appear organic. other faces are carrying out different types of violence. but to them, they are the average man on the street. if the average man in an under service neighborhood in tunis doesn't care about a couple of politicians being killed, to them, they have been lean yet
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-- lenient and organic. with respect to brutality, i want to say a specific word about that. in looking at their actions, al qaeda versus isis, the way i described the two of them with respect to religious minorities -- we will get to that she has in just a second -- is hard genocide versus off genocide. -- soft genocide. hard genocide is isis. they slaughtered men in mass and enslaved women. that is pretty straight out of any sort of genocide playbook. in contrast, al qaeda had a program that is definitely genocidal. genocide defined as attempt to destroy the group, in whole, or in part. sign ad the jews renunciation of their faith, saying they would support sunni islam, and put them in reorganization classes.
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this is not the -- round them up, slaughter them, and slave them. instead, it is a softer genocide. but it is still a genocidal policy. in some cases, there are documented cases, where they try to employ brutality, and were dissatisfied when it got caught on camera. one example is yemen, where they went into a hospital, and slaughtered a bunch of people, only to find that it showed up on the internet. they apologized for it, said it was a rogue commander. i think a more likely explanation is they were ok with it until it turned up on the internet. then they said, we are going to go ahead and punish the people. these are two different approaches to violence. i would go back to the 2005, whennce in isis' predecessor was busy brutalizing the population. they were slaughtering she has anbeheading people -- shias
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beheading people. the leader wrote them a letter telling them not to do that. he made the point, couldn't you just shoot them rather than cut their heads off? it would accomplish the same thing. -- thathat is a light is a lot like what their strategy is. al qaeda is ok with them being dead, and keeping the reputation relatively high. i think that doug makes -- doug asked about shiism. it is a great point, and a great distinction. al qaeda's approach to shiites varies. in the guidelines for jihad, designed to facilitate the rebranding, it talks about how you must avoid unnecessary ias inct with the sh order to not harm the reputation, but at the same time, in theaters where they have a bigger role, they have been extraordinarily anti-shiite.
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you look at yemen where you have houthis shiite backed by iran. i went back through a trove of things posted online under a pseudonym. it is extraordinarily anti-shia. it resonated less with where al qaeda had taken himself. he described the shiites as the main enemy of the muslims. i do get with situational for what they face fear they do not have a consistent approach, but in general, i think al qaeda's outlook is, do not cause unnecessary conflict because it can hurt your reputation. but where you can really benefit from it, like in yemen, they are pretty anti-shia.
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also, i want to get to doug's point about the question of timing. i agree with them entirely that isis' view is caliphate now, al qaeda's view is the time is not yet right. but in addition to preparing the population, al qaeda has been concentrating on this progressive destabilization. they understand that destabilized areas play to their benefit. assuming isis does not usurp them, it plays to al qaeda's benefit. because isis is extraordinary the stabilizing. even in places with a big al qaeda presence, including somalia, yemen, northern mali, syria -- areas where you have lack of state capacity, violence on the ground. i think part of the longer-term plan -- i think they believe that time is not on the side of the states. not only is the population restless, but there are factors that make it difficult to govern
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-- water shortages, rising food prices, climate change, not that that's very high on their list, though bin laden did put up a message that focuses on climate change. but all of these things are things that make it harder to govern as a state. the more destabilization there is, the harder it is for the u.s. and the west to do what they have done over time, which is this why come all strategy -- whack-a-mole strategy. the al qaeda backed islamic state popped up in mali. the french whacked it down. you have the african union whackingn somalia people down. to them, if you have enough destabilization, and they built the infrastructure, preparing places like yemen and syria, to them, they will be in this very complex situation where that
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strategy will not back them down. that, oneng up on question i have for you and the rest of the panel, the paper draws out that the islamic state does not have a tactical agreement with al qaeda's latency approach. you said it is the betrayal of ideology. i am wondering if your paper and the way you presented it appears to suggest that you think al qaeda has engaged in a rebranding strategy, not actually losing al qaeda as we understood it before. is the islamic state analyzing it incorrectly? is that just the political stance named at -- stabbed aimed at disrupting al qaeda, or is a losing -- is al qaeda its ability or nature that made
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it such a threat to the western world? >> that is a great question. i do not think there is any objective answer to how well it is believed. this specific argument that david is referring to, the ideological argument, is that isis contends that al qaeda, through failure to implement sharia, is not actually following their ideology as it should be practiced in its purest form. this has always been a debate amongst jihadist scholars. some argue that you need to implement sharia as soon as you can, but others say that will fail. you can introduce it to the population slowly, and those who take the more pragmatic approach -- carron --ron, koran, you have three different
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verses dealing with alcohol. there are verses that you cannot pray while drunk and that it was discouraged, then eventually banned. within the islamic tradition, you have areas in which sharia is implemented or religious laws are implemented slowly over time. i think they need it, but it is the threat of slower implementation has always been there within al qaeda. not to say that they have always embraced it. just that you have always had that discussion with some people favoring pragmatism, and others taking more of a hard view. isis obviously takes the hard line view. >> i feel like the limits of this pragmatism is that with all political, islamic movements, he -- even the muslim brotherhood, there is absolutely no imagination that somebody could be introduced to their side, and think, ok, great, i don't want to believe. it is not possible. you either see the light as they have, or you need to be killed. you are completely out of humanity, as far as we are concerned.
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this is the limit of the pragmatism, let's just convince them. again, the convincing doesn't really happen through arguments because you don't really have the choice to say, fine, i don't want to believe. there is a lot of coercive, and sometimes financial -- al qaeda as a nation is investing in services. the failure of arab states in providing services for the population is a huge reason for the expansion of this islamic stock. another thing, we have not heard the last of al qaeda, because there is such an infrastructure for this thought. this political islamic thought, by its very dna, is expansionist. you cannot say, we are just going to be contained in this
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area where we have perfect islam. that is not islamic, that is profitsly anti-how the -- prophets practice islam. there are so many verses you cannot compete with, urging muslims to go and expand. to say that this is the al qaeda that is not expansionist, it is not possible. it is part of the dna. >> i am sure all of you have seen the famous obama anger translator sketch. obama says -- it is one of the key and peele comedians who does it. when i say that al qaeda is pragmatic, she points out that that does not actually means pragmatic. i agree with you. i will just say, i used
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primarily -- pragmatic, one has to understand that this is within the jihadist consolation, pragmatic in any way that any of us think it is. it is pragmatic with the goal of setting up religious through a totalitarian state. >> i will try to phrase this right, but as i hear this conversation, it is interesting to me that these debates are going on within these groups and are taken very seriously. it does seem that to some anti-isil coalition has bought into this. the 65 member coalition, the u.s., the west, the gulf states buy this to some extentis. -- five is to some extent -- buy this to some extent, that isil is a different thing and a different animal than -- >> are they buying or selling this?
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>> that's the point. let's say the coalition as a whole is buying this. but when i think about the alternative coalition that we see, the russians, iranians, regime, theyyrian are not buying it. they seem to be colorblind in this range. a sunni islam is a sunni islamist jihadist. it is kind of all one in the same. it certainly is politically advantageous for all of these groups. what you really believe in what is politically advantageous can be distinguished as bland. it is easy to believe something that is politically advantageous for you. obviously, it is politically advantageous for those that support the assad regime. believing that these groups are
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closer to the assad regime are the same as isis, which is all the way out in the east and does not directly threaten the assad regime. but i think there are also beliefsbelieves here -- here. i am not sure what the question and that is, but why is there this distinction of you between these two alternative coalitions that are now both actively engaging isil inside syria? >> i pick it is an observational question. to me, there is merit to both coalition views. on one hand, i think it is important to recognize the distinction between isil and al qaeda, not because al qaeda is moderate, but these are actual figures. if you treat them as though they -- fishers.
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if you treat them as they are one, you cannot take advantage of the fizzures. we tend to not do a good job of exploiting them. in theory, we could. there will be some areas where we actually did so covertly that we do not know about right now. i argue that they did a great job. that is the merit of our coalition view. the flip side, there is a second area of merit to the u.s. coalition view. it recognizes that not everyone who aligns with al nusra does so because they are extremists. some do so out of ragged chisholm -- out of pragmatism and that is accurate. i think that is important because when you -- you want to drive a wedge between them.
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the flip side, as nadia articulated, both isis and al qaeda have expansionist, imperialist visions that do not have limitations. the fact that it is not necessarily shared throughout all of the ranks. take away the necessarily, it is not shared throughout all the ranks. just as i did research in tunisia, it was obvious that there were guys who had no idea they were part of al qaeda. number two, secondly, not all of them would agree with the entirety of the vision. for some of them, it was more conservative religiosity rather than this al qaeda alignment. that being said, whether the leadership is able to harness this organization to roughly serve their strategy is what matters. the's where i would credit
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russian-iranian view. they are taking seriously what these organizations believe. i think to some extent, when you look at a lot of the ways in which these groups are interpreted, hard-line groups being framed with groups we can work with, or these interviews saying, we want to set up a state in syria and we will do it with the coordination of other nations -- i do not think people are buying it. but you can find plenty of people who buy into that argument. we are stopping at what they are saying in a selective platform, and not understanding the other layers of thought, which nadia is talking about. thisis one reason why doese discussion --
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religion matter? do religious ideas matter? i think they absolutely do. we cannot say that this religion is bad, but fundamentally, the reason why these guys take this debate so seriously, is because they actually believe this is an obligation. you need to understand it from the perspective, because if you don't, you can be fooled or miss opportunities. it is always worth understanding an enemy and understanding that enemy through their own worldview. if we decide that we do not want to do that, we are not fundamentally understand groups like isis and nusra. >> i would like to get to your questions. i would like to get the answer to what i think is everyone's biggest question from all three of you. is isis correct in that it can disrupt the al qaeda network and become the single dominant port
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in the jihadist movement? are we stuck in a period where they will combat with affiliates and will not be able to see what we see at the moment with isis in the lead, or is al qaeda going to reassert itself in five to 10 years? >> since the odds are against isil usurping al qaeda, they could. it is something i would handicap and i would handicap against it. the reason why i think odds are affiliates, the key you have a very strong coremitted for that -- that buys into the al qaeda network and they all benefit from being a part of this network. things that could change that
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would be like what we saw in egypt. egyptian counterterrorism authorities went after their leadership relentlessly in 2014. basically killing off the al qaeda or injuring the al qaeda loyalists, taking them out of the game, so that the pro-isis guys remain. it is possible that something unexpected -- for example, in somalia, internal security services have been ruthlessly going after pro-isis contingence to make sure they do not have that competition emerge. you can have events emerge where it passes by al qaeda's ability to keep the network together. at which point, the odds of isis definitively eclipsing al qaeda goes way up. but i put odds against it -- is there a central event that
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would throw it up? >> not necessarily, i do not think one person -- i think a couple of competitions would do it. the final very quick point, if you look at al qaeda today, it is probably stronger than it was before bin laden died. it's not even close. it controls continuous territory in yemen. it controls territory in syria. it has experienced losses at you look at, but if al qaeda's power on april 30, 2011 versus today, the amount of growth they have experienced is tremendous. i think we have to take that growth back -- basically, the international community is going after the fruit and keeping the
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tree. the tree is our ally, we need to water it -- we go after the fruit. you have the ideology that is -- you don't touch it, because if you touch the dowa efforts to spread very conservative form of islam, you will be seen as anti-islamic. the truth is, this very conservative -- i was watching cnn this morning, and the shooter in california was described as someone who took his religion very seriously. unless we go for the dowa, the ideology that has not yet combined with a group, but it is inevitable -- we also have to put this in the context geopolitically in the mideast,
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that you have two powers, iran and saudi, they are desperate to eliminate the iranian influence, and both of them are investing everything in asserting their dominance. the populations are paying for it. this is almost an exit stencil existential fight for the sunnis. because of that, i would not be surprised after a year we see a complete emergence. there is massive effort to reconcile the two groups. i would not be surprised if they are reconciled in a few years. >> just to play off of that, i think it is entirely likely that al qaeda regains its prominence in the next few years. because of its growth, although that is not insignificant, but because isil now has too many enemies. against all these
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.eople while we have not had the most substantive year infighting isil, the french in russia -- the french and russians seem incredibly serious about this. i think the preponderance of forces against isil -- eventually the incompetence that has been demonstrated this past year cannot continue. my question would be, is there -- is this subject to empirical evidence? if isil having declared the 2, 3, 5 years, whatever your timeline is, no longer holds terrain in iraq or syria, will their members say aq was right? this was not the time. we somehow misread the
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scriptures. by his r. kelly -- we were misled by successors. falsifiable? >> i think the answer is yes in a complex way. >> there is an ideological way for which it is falsifiable. they will have some explaining to do because that is not supposed to happen. the other way is, basically what happened with al qaeda in iraq. al qaeda in iraq was known for its brutality. as they lost ground, former members themselves got brutalized. humiliated, executed, what happened to them was every bit as grisly as much as what they inflicted on the population. you already see this happening to isis members, you can find it on youtube.
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it is not well known because isis is not as exposed as isis supporters. but it is there. >> or publicity. >> majority of the people do not like isis. you don't have dedicated people sending out stuff of isis getting killed. i'm not talking about in the theater, where you have bloodthirsty revenge killings going on. what i'm saying is, eventually, one of the reasons al qaeda in toxic, is because the population turned against it and their members were being killed. its brutality time from this symbol of strength to a symbol of how it is overplayed. part of it is ideological it was clearly too
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early. the other would be a visceral reaction to see what happens to people who had been a part of crisis which would invalidate the aq process. >> we have a question up front here. >> thank you, mark from george mason university. thank you for such an interesting presentation. my question to you is, how many holes should we regard from this pledge of allegiance to groups outside of syria and iraq? whether it is africa or the middle east? are they subordinating themselves to isil's authority, or are they more technical or tactical submissions, they get something from this? ultimately, is it possible that we might see some of these groups do to isil what isil did to al qaeda? in the sense that is there the
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--spect further defecting four defecting? thank you. >> i think it is a phenomenal question. the answer depends on the group. some cases, there is a clear subordination. number one, you have the pledge. second, is the pledge accepted? some cases, it has not. tunisian groups have pledged, but some have not. third, look at isil leadership. in libya, this is isil's hub outside of-- iraq and syria. you have those who state ground in libya, giving it the ability to have a command of control
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hub in such a place. the group that is unlikely -- likeliest would be boko hoaram, a group that tends to be difficult to control. isil weakens, then you get into the question, the same that people have been debating about. as central leadership weakens and it starts acting out ways provokey it, that could organizations for a tailspin. in al qaeda's case has dealt with that for a number of years. we can see, to care for readings -- careful readings of letters, this attempt from leadership in the region to execute strategy and accordance with the issues of the leadership in south asia and now spread out.
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such that i think al qaeda senior leadership is in places like yemen and syria. you see these attempts throughout the network. the question is, aq has dealt with years of pressure upon them. isis has not been tested the same way. one of the key questions, with respect to your observation, how do they respond to pressure? do they keep things contact? -- intact? or do they end up going into a tailspin because they do not expect pressure to have the effect that it does? >> do either of you have comments? 25, would say, that on page there is a wonderful table showing which groups have pledged allegiance to isis and which group has accepted the pledge?
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out here? >> american university, annabelle. thank you for the discussion. something nadia said, from my understanding, is saudi arabia the mothership? and here we are just focusing on the little actors, the ones actually doing the brutality. but the money, thoughts, ideas are all coming from saudi arabia? thehat is the case, does international community need to focus on that and finally have the balls to stop getting oil and giving you money, is that what it is going to take to end it? this way it will never end. we will just keep going after one fruit after another. >> this is a tricky issue.
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what the islamic state forces children to learn in its schools is the weddings -- the curriculum is enforced in areas under isis control. more than an agreement and ideology, this is a match. the report compared isis to other revolutionary -- i think the comparisons should be between them and the journey of mohammed abdullah because that is actually who they really aspire to, this is not that simple. and somebia is an ally people have made the argument that it is not the people themselves, the 5000 princes, some of them have stronger alliances with the others. they support it. it is not so black and white. for those that argue that it is
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not so black and white, why is it that when a liberal speaks one sentence outline, he is cut like this? you have millions and miions of dollars invested in islamic schools and mosques, that basically perpetuate hate and violence. i went to one. any tv there, on you would not believe the excitement against the west and the hate. stop giving us all of this hate. it is turning people into killing machines. there is definitely an enormous role for them to play. i do not see, personally, that we can tackle this without going to the source. at the same time, it is not the state itself, maybe people within the state. it is not so black and white.
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>> i have a question, because yesterday i was at the conference in turkey and they -- on turkey and they were talking about oil and they said it was not necessarily turkey that was processing the isis oil. it was people in turkey. basically, the state would take responsibility for helping isis financially. it is almost like everybody knows the problem, but they are not talking about that and how saddam's daughter is helping isis. and she lives in jordan. we do not confront these people who are obviously a part of the problem. is there any plan coming up to actually confront the problem, our allies? i would like to really address this because once i think people , are clear about what america expects, maybe change can happen.
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>> this is a really important point. we have saudi arabia and particularly turkey in this conflict playing a similar role that say, pakistan did in the war in afghanistan. facilitating the fight and are -- in which there are clear ways with which they are facilitating the fight and are part of the problem. on the other hand, there are other ways in which they are assisting and which they are of relative utility. the wonderful term i learned for -- from my children, is frenemy. i think this is how we need to
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approach these types of states. if saudi arabia is a problem, on the other hand, it is not a particularly stable state. what happens if we -- because of sanctions or something else we did to them, the state false. the last thing we need is for one more unstable place in the middle east. that is the worst of all outcomes. we have our hands tied and we need -- we are going to have to deal with this. what you are talking about is important. speaking truthfully about what these states are doing, and not doing, having sunshine, having a name and shame policy that is appropriate, i think it is absolutely part of the solution. i think when we to stop using the term ally, frankly. >> i want to add to that. with respect to turkey, i see
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there is a problem on the al qaeda side, then isis side. i think they are generally anti-isis, although they occasionally referred to bump -- bomb the kurds. but are actively supporting al qaeda. i think turkey has taken an extraordinarily dark turn. one of the problems for us, for the u.s., looking at the leverage over turkey, we need the airbase. but, i think we boxed ourselves in with thinking that we need them more than they need us. it is a lot like pakistan during the afghan-soviet war. at the end of the day, turkey has a mess on their border. it will affect them a lot sooner than it will affect the united states. we have a lot more leverage than we believe. part of what i think we need to
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do in recalibrating our role in the region and tried to deal with some of these issues that have been highlighted. recognize that we have leverage and not allow ourselves to see the u.s. as being dependent. with a few changes in our outlook, we could do a lot more to get concession or name and shame without feeling like we are shooting ourselves in the foot in the process. >> when dealing with these groups and determining what their ideology and strategies are, how likely they are to change over time? a co-author on this paper recently wrote an article contesting what has been a narrative that isis's attack in france was the change in strategy. you recently touched on this. how stable has isis' strategy been? has isis' strategy changed, perhaps not in that year, but before and after the airstrike campaign?
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piece that he is referring to was written by the people sitting back there. i think they did a very thorough job of looking at the question of whether attacking the west, the terrorist attack, represents the change in isis' strategy. their conclusion, is that it is not. if you look at the rhetoric of the organization, and reviews -- previous actions, including the january plot that was disrupted in belgium. they tried this before. i think we are going to see a change, not an strategy, but in resource allocation. i think isis is likely to invest proportionately more resources in external operations,
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terrorist attacks abroad. it has to maintain its image of having momentum. as it loses ground in iraq and syria, there will be challenges in doing so. they will focus on ensuring inshoring themselves up places like sinai, libya, it n tunisia, and trying to carry out attacks in in the west to show that they have momentum. they have a social media type strategy. the strategy is to get people excited, and you keep getting them excited. it is a strategy of momentum. that is what is part of the strategy is, keep people and, to replenish their
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ranks and draw relations to them. which is why we will have completely fake social media campaigns orchestrated by isis supporters and some major organization is going to -- more people would say it and keep saying it and then shabab will issue a statement and say no, we are not defect in. defecting. that's happened in some cases where they got media outlets to report it. they had not yet put it in their videos. it was reported in multiple media outlets that they were in -- an isis affiliate. they never were, by isis was able to get a supporter from the organization to issue this release that made it look like it spoke for the whole organization. and they are clever in that way. they have a very momentum-based strategy.
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i think that the resource of allocation will shift. they tried to attack the west -- they wanted to attack the west from the outside. they tried well before parents. -- paris. the broader question is can these groups change is very interesting. the biggest debate is occurring, the brotherhood now, is it the same brotherhood -- or has it become an electoral force. it is a very different organization. that is where i think the central debate is, about to what extent these organizations change over time. it is a question that will be -- that we will be debating for some time to come. when we are talking about isis and al qaeda and if we have seen any changes, it has been small and mostly strategic. nadia: we can explain the social media momentum because the vast majority of the recruits are in their 20's. this is in the organization that -- generation that has an
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intimate relationship with computers. this is how they communicate. >> deborah, a freelance journalist. given the tenor of our presidential race and the xenophobia coming out of the noticeableere been a uptick with isis and al qaeda? >> that is a good question. i have not seen it, but i also think it would not manifest itself yet. you are talking about a relatively recent phenomenon over the past few months. generally, we would start to notice it based upon arrest and understanding the genesis of where people draw their inspiration or grievance from.
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i think it is possible, i just have not seen evidence for it so far, that there is a noticeable uptick. >> naida is talking about how there is so much hatred of the west in the media. our media, there is so much hatred for muslims. nadia: a night and day difference. i watch fox, cnn, msnbc, really night and day. in the arab world, you have 80% of the population under 40, unemployed, disadvantaged, not allowed to legally participate in the government.
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these so-called allies put all of their energy, all of the media is controlled. they do not have free media like we do here. they take all of the responsibility from the failure of the nation on the west. it is rampant that people think everything that goes wrong is because of the west. that is what they hear 24/7. >> up in front. >> thank you very much. as has been a great discussion, i love it. retired analyst. i am curious to know what you was watchingl, i the news this morning, and one of the speakers said that what is happening is world war iii, we are in world war iii. i wonder what you think about that. i also wonder, if we lose world world war iii and isis wins,
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what does our day to day life look like? it is a threat to the u.s. in this conflict and the international system. >> that analogy has been made up several times. either cold war or world war iii. i think it is possible, if it is world war iii, it is not the u.s. versus isis. what we are seeing is a broader phenomenon. i think al qaeda and isis are one subset of this phenomenon. --ch is, the west feeley and the western states are really receiving, not so much and are part of north america, or europe. but in africa, middle east, places with weak governments. the state plays less of a role. i think we are seeing this
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global, broader phenomenon with al qaeda and isis if they are the most prominent subsets in which the state is being challenged. it is finding -- trans-nationalism is possible now in a way that it never was before. al qaeda was notable because it was the first global insurgency. and now trans-nationalism is very easy. we are so interconnected. you can find transactional operations not just with al qaeda and isis, but with anarchist movements, racialist movements, with groups dedicated to a set of ideals, like anonymous. i am not saying that all of these groups are the same, but they are the same with some state actors that are capable of functioning to some extent at it
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-- it differs from group to group, but to some extent, it is strategic level. the number of countries that have been ripped apart by violence is very high. from syria, mali, libya, iraq. the list goes on. i am not saying it is a failed state, but it is work that hard apart in where you have a violent actor controlling large parts of the territory. i will, not just at al qaeda and isis, but this broader phenomenon. what we will have to do, i think it is two things. we are going to have to better navigate this world. isis is bad, al qaeda is bad, but some groups are either a little bit more ambiguous, or in some ways, a lot of them. we are going to have to navigate this world were not all
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relations are not on state to state level. the second thing is, the analogy i make a lot is between the disruptions and political states and disruptions in the economic state. with start up industries coming in after -- over the course of 15 years and disrupting a legacy of another time. look at blockbuster video and suddenly netflix comes along and blockbuster anymore. the analogy i use, the violence looks a lot like startup competitors in the political organizing space. they are able to innovate quickly, they have a streamlined structure, they are able to make strategic shifts in a more rapid way. and a very bureacrazied states, trouble u.s., they have keeping up. they look at how these startups
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are beating them and they have adapted their structures in some ways. or maybe they have created internal startups. ultimately, i think that is one thing we are going to have to do. agility is going to be important in this world that we are in the midst of the we have not adapted to yet. >> the last few questions? i am with the state department, i have a question with the muslim brotherhood. just background i am sure you know, but this is for everyone else, there has been mixed reports about the role they play within isis. in 2012, there are videos online on youtube of them raising isis flags in the background while making political speeches.
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there is also -- >> are we talking about egypt? >> yes. and also a couple of days ago, saudi arabia has ordered that all books written by muslim brotherhood scholars be removed from the school system. this is also tying into the msa, i am not sure if you are familiar with that. that also has ties with the muslim brotherhood. is this something that we need to worry about in our universities on our side of the world? thank you. ok. msa is the muslim student association. nadia: it is definitely a great thing to ban them, but saudi arabia has a lot more -- if you compare it to the writings of
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mohammed abdullah, you have isis versus the brotherhood. i think it is clear which one is more violent and more harmful. i think it is pretty important to go at the ideology of exclusion of owning the truth. this idea -- this egomaniac idea that i know what islam is and if you do not adhere to it, you have no human rights, you are to be butchered like an animal. we need education and values such as religion tolerance, ability to agree with one another without violence, without coercion. how are we going to do this in a n environment where these are the main mechanisms of influence by our own state? if you want to talk about tolerance and nonviolence, the state has to treat its own citizens with nonviolence. the state is not modeling what it really wants to see. you cannot leave without leading
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-- lead without leading by example. unless there is human rights and participation by the population, i do not see how this will end. number two, -- from within, we are aware of the limitations of what has been forced on us. we are monitoring a lot of, on social media, it starts off line and goes online. the debates are more audacious bold thanld -- and anything that i had seen in the west. people do not address the issue at all, it is radio active. people who live under islamic rule and forced to adhere to one person's vision or another, it is a problem on a daily basis. for example, as a jordanian
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citizen, i can only, if at all, 70% of jordanian women do not inherit anything, i could inherit half. the list is so long about the abuse to my rights every day in the name of islam. it is a problem. if you look under islamic rule, we need to reform. the modern state came to europe, and it is really a past that took hundreds of years of abuses recognized that it is not its place to enforce christianity on people. until it said, we need to give , they didn'tol start having real states and human rights and participation. we would never have had that. the arab spring is the very first ever taking of power in over 1000 years.
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we are learning the hard way. definitely, the west can help in that debate, but they are not. >> let's get a closing statement and comments going down the line. wefor all the reasons stated, this is a very important report that lays out the distinctions between these two groups. i do not think we should let the distinctions over one the -- overwhelm the commonalities. at the end of the day, this is cousins feud and the entire family is a problem. nadia: i would conclude about the reports, i like the section about tunisia and how dowa the seeds oftart al qaeda, so we need to focus on the ideas and the spread of the legal ideas before they become
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actual, physical violence. >> as you all noticed, this has been an unusual week as of all -- because of all the terrible things happening in the world. let me first start by apologizing. i misread the invitation before i set my schedule for the day. i am sorry i showed up late. normally, you do not begin a closing statement with an apology. this is an exception. first of all, i really want to thank the people we have worked with, jason frtiz and bridget who did a phenomenal job with the reports. i want to thank the institution for publishing it. this is a phenomenal institution and we are thrilled to have our report associated with it. thank you, david for moderating this panel. this is a panel i respect deeply, doug and nadia. overall, i would take this back to where i started. i was really pleased with this event. when we look at this period in a couple of years, we will look at
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this like a missed opportunity. inre are a lot of periods global terror that we look back on like a missed opportunity. it is happening in the open. increasingly, you have al qaeda -- describing isis as a blessing in disguise and saying they were able to clarify who the true shiites war and who the true -- were and who the true muslims were. we need to pay attention because in the past we have not, they laid out their blueprint for societies like tunisia and we do not pay attention to that. then we end up overlooking opportunities to stop their plans from coming to for titian. -- fruition. >> thank you. [applause] announcer: coming up this
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